Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Cast iron
17 × 14 in. (43.2 × 35.6 cm)
Renaissance Revival
Victorian (1837-1901)
Cast-iron handle for an urn. The handle is in the Renaissance Revival style with scrolls and a large L-shaped, strapwork motif. The Renaissance Revival style was a popular style of the Victorian era in the United States. It emerged as early as the 1840s and experienced renewed interest in 1890s. Renaissance Revival was a continuation of the Neoclassicism of the early nineteenth century and was vaguely related to actual objects from the Renaissance period. Renaissance Revival motifs included scrolling foliage called rinceaux, fruit garlands, masks, satyrs, egg-and-dart decoration, friezes, putti, armorial shields, palmettes, scrolls, grotesques, lions, water plant motifs, anthemia, oval medallions, bosses and strapwork, dolphins, Caryatid figures, and architectural elements such as columns, pilasters, pediments, and cornices.
Label Text:
In America, urns have been a popular feature in the garden since the mid-nineteenth century. They could be exclusively decorative or utilitarian and planted with shrubs, flowers, or ornamental varieties. Cast-iron urns were typically made in sections, which included a removable reservoir plate, earth and water bowl (in one or two pieces), brass faucet for drainage, neck, and foot or the bowl, neck, and pedestal might be all cast in one piece. Additional attachments such as handles, plinths, pedestals and bases were available, and sections could be taken apart to allow for easier movement or relocation in the garden. Pieces were also interchangeable, which allowed for replacement parts or design variations by the addition of different handles, plinths, or pedestals. Customers had the ability to select from a broad range of different finishes, components, and design motifs. Designs followed the trends of the time with natural forms, ornamental motifs pulled from historic revival styles, and complicated shapes.
Urns frequently had two, four, or more applied handles, which were interchangeable with the removal of a bolt. There was a vast variety of choices stylistically in a range of sizes, appeasing the love of ornament in the Victorian era. Elaborate handles and figural designs were a popular feature of urns, especially in the second half of the 1800s. The vast variety of decorative motifs and forms for elaborate handles, fully decorated bowls, fanciful balusters, and coordinating pedestals allowed for extraordinary combinations for urns in nineteenth century.
cast iron  Search this
handles  Search this
Garden ornaments and furniture  Search this
handles: finish hardware  Search this
urns  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens